In Honor of Our Vets

Memorial Day – A day to remember our vets.

A photo I took at the Vietnam Veterans National Memorial in Washington, DC, a few years ago.

The Vietnam Veterans National Memorial wall reflections. The Washington Monument is in the background in Washington DC.


Spring Tulips

One of my favorite times of the year is when spring tulips bloom.

The tulip season doesn’t last long (it’s almost over here in Minnesota), and I was able to get a few quick photos of the blooming tulips.


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Purple Tulip
A purple tulip at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

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Maple Snack

On a recent weekend adventure, we went to Jay Cooke State Park in northern Minnesota, just south of Duluth.

As we were walking along a hiking trail, we noticed what looked like a little bear cub in a maple tree.

Giddy with excitement (we love bears), we walked a bit closer (keeping alert for Momma Bear in case this really was a little black bear cub in a tree) and to our surprise, it was a porcupine!

Who knew that during spring time, porcupine’s climb trees to eat the maple leaves that are sweet in spring. They have a sweet tooth just like we do… actually they have orange teeth like rodents do since their teeth don’t stop growing.

Enjoy the photos of “Spike” the porcupine.

Eating Maple Leaves
A porcupine eating the leaves of a maple tree.
Yummy maple leaves
A porcupine eating the leaves of a maple tree.
Taking a break
A porcupine takes a quick break during its snack of maple tree leaves.
A porcupine climbing on a maple tree branch.
Porcupine Snack
A porcupine eating the leaves of a maple tree.
Climbing a Maple Tree
A porcupine climbing on a maple tree branch.
Climbing down
A porcupine climbing down a tree branch.

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Revisiting Mt. Washburn and so much more!

This year, we are planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park to photograph spring babies and we are super excited!

In anticipation of this year’s trip, I wanted to share a blog post from our first trip to Yellowstone in July 2010. And, it was my first blog post that started Shot shorts!

As you’ll soon discover, our day included a drive through Hayden Valley and a hike up Mt. Washburn to photograph big horn sheep — where we captured a coyote catch!

Blog post from July 2010:

Since starting, I’ve had numerous people ask me if I’m going to write a behind the shot stories for some of the more rare and unique photographs. As I thought about it, I figured it also would be a fun way to share my photography adventures. And what to call the blog? Shot shorts.

Without a doubt, one of the most unique photographs (and one I get asked the most about) is of the coyote carrying its marmot meal down rocks. 

The funny thing is, the day started off with the goal being: to see and take photographs of big horn sheep on top of Mt. Washburn. I had no idea the day would bring so much more.

Our hike up Mt. Washburn was the first day of our Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks trip. The day started out before the crack of dawn, which is the best time to get wildlife photographs. And, since Mt. Washburn is one of the most hiked places in Yellowstone, Kristin and I wanted to beat the summer crowds to the top. Hot beverages in hand, we drove from Old Faithful Lodge to Mt. Washburn, with a quick stop in Hayden Valley for a few sunrise photographs. 

Hayden Valley

Let me pause here to share a few words about the buffalo silhouette photograph. (I realize there are debates about if they are called bison or buffalo, but since I like the word buffalo and this is my blog, that’s what I’m going to use.) We arrived at Hayden Valley just in time for the sunrise. We spotted an animal, possibly a moose, down near the water’s edge — far out of my lens’ reach. We kept looking. As the Jeep crawled down the road and up over a small hill, there sat a buffalo about five yards from the edge of the road. I pulled right in front of him and the brilliant sunrise colors beamed around him. He majestically sat there without a care in the world and wasn’t bothered by us or the Jeep, so there we sat, taking pictures and enjoying his immense beauty. We had him all to ourselves.

Bison Silhouette
The early morning sunrise is the backdrop to a bison in Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Mt. Washburn

Next, we headed toward our hike destination — Mt. Washburn. There are two trails that lead up to the top of Mt. Washburn. Both are three miles in length. Our plan was to take the less strenuous trail, Chittenden Road. However, when we pulled up to park, the trail was marked off with chains with a sign “Trail is closed.” We found out later that the path had active grizzlies in the area. So, our trail was chosen for us — Dunraven Pass. No other cars were in the parking lot, which increased our excitement and hopes for wildlife sightings. Hiking up the mountain, we saw marmots, American pika, red squirrels and a few birds.

Marmot Yawning
A yawning marmot in the rocks around the ranger station at the top of Mt. Washburn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

My hope for seeing big horn sheep at the top increased with every step. At the very top of Mt. Washburn sits a Lockout Tower, which is used to spot fires. Just before the trail curled around to lead up to the tower, we walked across snow — it was July 3. 

As the trail wound around, the Chittenden Road trail merged with ours. The final stretch up to the top and we were not seeing any big horn sheep. I won’t forget the moment when I said, “Where are they? The big horn sheep?” hands outstretched in wonderment. At that moment, I turned around, looked up the embankment behind me and there lay two big horn sheep. They just sat there and stared down at us.

Serene Big Horn Sheep
These big horn sheep were the first of about a dozen that I saw after hiking up Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

We hiked up the final stretch of the hill, where there were more big horn sheep sitting right on the trail. We were the first visitors of the day to the top, making our arrival more special.

Mt. Washburn Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn sheep on top of Mt. Washburn with Observation Peak in the background, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

We spent time at the top taking pictures of the view and of the marmot running in between the large rocks that surrounded the tower. There were so many of them, screaming, yawning, chasing each other in the rocks. We took a few more pictures at the top and then began our descent.

Coyote close up

A new group of big horn sheep had moved closer to the path, so I took more photographs. We were on the trail that overlooks the Chittenden Road trail. Just then, I spotted something trotting along the trail below. All I saw were its ears and part of its head bobbing up and down. It looked like a dog, so it could have been either a coyote or a fox. I couldn’t quite tell what it was, but it was clearly on a mission to get somewhere and fast.

As the animal came to the intersection of the Chittenden Road and Dunraven Pass, I could see what it was — a coyote. She walked right past a family that was coming around the bend, scaring everyone in their group. She did not stop. I followed quickly down the trail hoping to snap a few pictures. I looked up on the rocky hill (where all the marmots live) and saw something flailing in the air. I immediately guessed that she was getting breakfast from marmot hill. I moved closer down the path and came to a stop. The trail was barely big enough for a four wheeler. On one side was the rocky hill just below the tower and the other side, well, it was a steep cliff down the mountain.

There we stood on the side of the path closest to the steep cliff (I know, I know…), cameras in hand snapping away. The coyote had just killed a marmot, which she was now carrying down the rocky hill in her mouth — toward us! Closer… closer. The coyote began to climb down the rocks directly in front of us!

Coyote Catch
A coyote carries a freshly killed marmot down from the ranger tower where marmots live in the rocks on top of Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park.

We stood absolutely still (taking pictures of course) as she walked right by us, so close that I could have stuck out my foot and tripped her. She trotted by us as if she only had one care in the world — to get home to feed her pups with breakfast.

One of the most amazing experiences of my life, captured with photographs.

West Photo Exhibit, Sale extended through June 2016

West Photo has extended the exhibit and sale featuring Wallner Photography’s “Burst of Blue” and several other photos from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s 9th Juried Show through June.

West Photo’s exhibit and sale features work by 11 members of the Arboretum Photographer’s Society held this past January-April at the Arboretum.

Stop by West Photo to view the exhibit and sale, and it goes without saying, to purchase any photography equipment/accessories you may need.

West Photo, 21 NE University Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55413.

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Spring Goslings!

Spring has arrived in Minnesota! And with it comes the chance to photograph spring babies.

Enjoy these photos of a Canadian Goose family on a recent spring day at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum!

You can view some of these and many other photos in the Wallner Photography Galleries.

Iris Eating
A Canadian Goose gosling taking a bite out of an iris.
Eating an iris leaf
A Canadian Goose gosling eating an iris leaf.
Walk through the Iris
A Canadian Geese family walks through an Iris garden (and the many Iris signs) on their way to a nearby pond.
Grooming Time
A Canadian Goose and her chicks grooming themselves.
Eating with mom
A Canadian Goose and her chicks eating grass.

Follow me on my Wallner Photography Facebook page. You can also follow me on Twitter @WallnerPhotos or collect and organize Wallner Photography photos you love on Pinterest.

Spring on the Mississippi River

A few weekends ago, we spent the weekend at one of our favorite Top Lodging Gems – Lion Downe Cottage in Lake Pepin, Wisconsin – with some friends. We hoped we would see Bald Eagles since they are often found along the Mississippi River.

Were we ever surprised! We saw over 50 Bald Eagles, all ages.

And, we even saw the migration of over 100 American White Pelicans on their way north.

You can view some of these and many other photos in the Wallner Photography Galleries.

Enjoy the photos in this week’s blog!

Synchronized Take Off - Almost
In what looks almost like a synchronized take off, a flock of American White Pelicans take off along the Mississippi River near Lake Pepin, Wisconsin, as they migrate north for the summer.
Immature Bald Eagle
A immature Bald Eagle soaring above the Mississippi River.
American White Pelican
An American White Pelican flying along the Mississippi River.
Eye Reflection
The eye of a little red squirrel reflects a tree branch.
A Bald Eagle coasting in the air streams.
Flying Fast
A immature Bald Eagle flying fast across the sky.
Eagle Eye
A Bald Eagle searching the ridge above the Mississippi River.
Pelican stopover
American White Pelicans gather for a stopover along the Mississippi River as they migrate north. Look for the clumps of white toward the lower half of the photo.
Mississippi River
A Bald Eagle soaring above the tree tops along the Mississippi River.
A Bald Eagle makes a fly-by to check us out.
A Bald Eagle soaring above the Mississippi River.
Through the branches
A Bald Eagle looks as if it’s flying through tree branches as it coasts along the tree tops.

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Remembering Prince

Photographing spring babies at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum were our big plans for the weekend.

But, our trip out to the Arboretum included a quick stop by Paisley Park Studios early Saturday morning – practically a stone’s throw away from the Arboretum.

For those of you who don’t live in Minnesota, the past week has brought spring showers along with many Prince fans.

Most of the fans now have to park across the street and walk through a tunnel under the road to Paisley Park.

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The tunnel walls are covered with writings paying respect, tribute, saying goodbye.

At the end of the tunnel, someone created a 3D “PRINCE” in the fence with yarn. Very cool.

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The fence along both corners of Paisley Park are filled, and in some spots, you get a glimpse of an empty Paisley Park.

For all those not here in Minnesota, some more photos from Paisley Park as we remember a Legend.

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Being from the Chicago area, my favorite was the one with the City of Chicago flag (below).

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